I did it. I finished. And it was a great day. Not a PR day, but it felt just as good.
Finish time: 4:56:07. I'm a really happy girl.
It really started the night before with dinner and carb loading with Ashley and her crew. We met at a little restaurant and after we had waited about 20 minutes of the hour wait we decided to get take out instead. I ate a really yummy turkey, bacon, and avocado sandwich. The bread was to die for and I already plan on going back there sometime soon.
Brittany, girlfriend to Ash's brother, Ashley's mom, Ashley, me, and Heather
I got 4 hours of sleep but slept a good 8 the night before that so I wasn't too worried. I had a bath, shaved my legs, took my time getting dressed and ate a waffle with peanut butter and jelly. I usually don't eat before a long run but this was 3:30 a.m. and we were running at 7:00. I figured I was going to need something. I got all my gear and headed out the door. But not before finding a sweet note from my hubby.
I picked up Mel and we met her running group at 4:30 to get our bus ride to the start line. Heaven knows why we had to be there that early because we waited 1 hour and 20 minutes for the start. The field where we waited had fires but was a big muddy mess. It was pretty cold. I did get to use the long line of porta potties twice before the start. My feet were freezing though. Mel kindly let me wrap them in her sweatshirt for a while. I wore my gorilla feet and they just don't keep you that warm while you're standing still or are wet.
The race finally got started and we were off! I felt like it took me a while to get warmed up and comfortable but after the first mile I felt good. I didn't feel like I was pushing the pace and just felt good. I ran into Brittany from dinner the night before and we ran together for quite a while. I didn't listen to music until we parted ways at mile 17 or so. I just listened to the race atmosphere and everyone's conversations. People are interesting. The scenery was beautiful as well. I could kick myself for not taking a few photos along the way because we passed old barns set in fields of bright green dotted with yellow flowers against the backdrops of tall, snow-crested mountains. The opposite side of the road was the reservoir, a nice biking trail, and fields of horses that were curious about what was going on. The spectators were awesome, the volunteers amazing. I was drinking in the experience and loving every minute of it.
I felt so good. Like really, really good. And I did until about mile 19 or so when I entered the second canyon. Things were starting to get a little tight and started to suck a bit. It felt like a long run. From miles 19 to 23 I smiled. Things were to that sucking phase and I was going to embrace it and love it. I reminded myself that if I was hurting it was because I was alive. Alive and running a marathon. I used my mantras a little more and focussed on good form. I stopped and stretched a few times. My hip flexors were what was starting to bug me a little. My calves were getting tight and my feet were starting to ache. Just tired though, no pain.
Just before mile 23 I got out of the canyon and there was Heather cheering for me. It was a really good mental boost and I knew that there were only 3 miles left. Those last 3 miles were sucktaculous. I took that little boost that Heather gave me and ran those last 3 miles really well. I hurt, but I had a smile on my face and felt good. Really, really good. I knew I wasn't going to PR but didn't care. It was a great day.
One more block!
Heather and I. She was my support crew. During more than just this one marathon.
Ashley and me. This girl is amazing!
This race was a big experiment. Experimenting with shoes. Experimenting with form. Experimenting with mental exercises. Experimenting with fueling. Experimenting with carrying a water bottle for 26.2 miles. And I'm so pleased to say that all that experimenting went well.
I had a Hammer gel right before the race started and then at miles 5, 10, 15, and 20 as Angie Bee suggested. I also used Nuun in my water bottle. I liked being able to drink whenever I wanted and gu whenever without waiting for an aid station. I also think I got more fluid in me than I normally do. I refilled 3 times. I practiced in training and I think all those push ups made it so that my shoulders didn't even get sore. I worried about that and switched hands every couple of miles. I had no stomach issues whatsoever which is a first. I think I have that part figured out for me. I also took my peppermint/ginger oil before the race thanks to MissZippy and I think that's another reason why my stomach did so well. Plus when I weighted myself as I got in the shower, I weighed the same as the morning. I hydrated well and was pleased about that.
I had a tinge of calf cramping but came upon an aid station that had bananas. I ate one and made an effort to drink a little more and didn't have any other problems.
One thing I do need to work on is proper running form while going downhill. That's hard to do and I find that I take it slower than I normally would. I just can't cruise down like I used to be able to do in normal running shoes. That being said, my quads are not sore at all. The last two times I've run this marathon I've had to go down the stairs backwards for 3 days. I think my new running style has something to do with this.
Mentally, this was my best marathon. I was happy the whole time. I never went to a dark place in my mind. I smiled the whole way. I used my finger rubbing technique whenever I felt tightness or felt tired. I thought about each child in my church group that I have charge over. I thought about Janae. I thought about Nora. I thought about all of you that support me. Miles 7-17 were dedicated to Heather. She knows why. Paying it forward, baby. Miles 18-23 were for Mike. I embraced the suck for you. Miles 23-26 were for myself and my family. I needed to know that I could finish, and finish strong and finish happy. My poor husband has really been there for me when I've struggled. He's worried about my health. Sometimes more my mental health. He's always been my best cheerleader. He couldn't be to this finish line. It was the first time. He was taking care of running the kids around. And it was hard for him not to be there. And my kids think I'm pretty awesome for simply doing it.
"It was a great day to be alive."
I took a walk last night when things started getting stiff. Today was a much better day. I'm walking pretty normally. My list of things that hurt are: my calves, but not unless I flex, my hip flexors, the tops of both feet are tender right above the big toe, and my achilles tendon on the right side is tight. Not too shabby and nothing feels injured. Just sore. I'll be icing and rolling and trying to decide whether or not I'll be doing this again in less than 3 weeks time.
Thanks so much to all of your for your thoughtful comments, e-mails, and texts. Running a marathon really shows you that you are loved. It's one of the things I love the most about running.